Beyond the Plastic Pollution Conference

02 Nov 2017 Beyond the Plastic Pollution Conference

My only disappointment from the Beyond Plastic Pollution conference fantastically organised by the Boomerang Alliance this week in Sydney was that it ended. Three days with plastic reduction big thinkers and like-minded doers was exactly what I needed.

In combination with Plasticity, another conference running in alignment across the harbour with a corporate focus, the two events were all about solutions to the proliferation of plastics in our environment.

We heard from scientists, regulators, grass roots go getters, business and even a few politicians (some in person). I had a tear in my eye as I was again reminded by Blue the film of plastics effects on wildlife. With equal passion we were filled with hope as we moved around the venues listening to physical, economic, psychological and practical solutions to plastic pollution.

The conference cemented the reality that this issue has to be tackled from several directions. It was inspiring to hear about Indonesia’s big plans to tackle the issue head on, aiming to reduce plastic pollution by 70% within a few years. In stark comparison, Australia federally doesn't have much happening, so it is up to individuals and business to make the change while organisations like Boomerang Alliance chip away at state governments. I'm not being totally negative here, while it’s no secret that some governments are weak and slow to react, groups like Take 3 for the sea, Surfrider, Plastic Free July, The Two Hands Project, Onya LifeResponsible Cafes, Wasteless Pantry, 1 Million Women,  Ethique, Australian Marine Conservation SocietyFair Food Forager and notably programs like the War on Waste are changing opinion, and this is moving governments into action.

Something sobering to ponder was the thought that China will cut their import of waste plastic for recycling, meaning other countries are now going to have to deal with another 7 million tonnes of waste plastic. On the bright side, could this mean finding new ways of reducing plastic and removing the need to ship our rubbish OS?

After Fair Food Foragers efforts in SE Asia, I was excited to hear from Nev Hyman and Nev House and its potential opportunities to turn local people into plastic collectors. Creating the ability to make an income by selling collected plastic to build durable, tool free, recycled plastic homes. A far cry from burning it on the side of the road.

By far the highlight at the completion of the conference was the connections and conversations, discussing where we had all come from and where we were headed. Teaming up, combining resources and working together to reduce plastic pollution and get cleaning up our coastlines and oceans.

Take it from me, you can be hopeful. The conversation is huge and people are starting to make real inroads connecting communities and influencing business and governments. Single use plastics days are numbered, I can feel it.

 

Paul Hellier - Founder

 

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Boomerang Alliance - "Let’s build a healthier economy, and a better world, by turning waste into opportunity"

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